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The Hot Topic of Smoking

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I love controversial topics, so I thought a post on this subject might get people talking.  How do you feel about smoking on your favorite cruise ship?

I will be honest, I am a smoker, but it seems more and more cruise lines are not too friendly to us smokers these days.  The areas you can smoke in are becoming less and less.  I remember when I boarded Holland America’s Veendam for a TransAtlantic cruise from Tampa to Venice back in April of 2007.  Without any prior warning, beginning with our cruise Holland America had tightened up their smoking policy.  They removed all of the ashtrays from the tables in the small section of the outside Lido deck, where smoking had previously been allowed.  They also started a rotation policy in the casino of smoking and smoke-free nights.  There were a “hard core” group of smokers on that sailing who were pretty much up in arms about the changes … especially since Holland America offered no advance warning before implementing them.  In fact, on the cruise right before this no such restrictions were in force.  A friend who had been onboard the previous sailing told me that stewards began removing the ashtrays from the tables on the Lido while she and her husband sat there having a cigarette before disembarking.

Of course, to be fair, I have to say that the upset smokers were clearly in the minority.  There were plenty of passengers onboard who were absolutely thrilled with the changes.

Lately, HAL has been distributing a survey to all guests asking smoking-related questions.  Would you continue to sail Holland America if smoking were prohibited in most venues?  Would you continue to sail the line if smoking were totally prohibited?  … questions of that nature.  Supposedly this survey will go on for a year, after which time decisions will be made based on the results.  My feeling, and those of most other smokers I’ve talked to is that smoking will probably be greatly restricted, if not altogether eliminated at that time.

How do you feel about this?  Does the smoking onboard the ships you sail bother you?

I’ve heard many people complain about balcony smokers.  I would imagine that a good number of the people who opt for a balcony stateroom do so because one member of the party smokes, while the others do not.  The balcony provides a place for them to indulge their “vice” without bothering the other people in the stateroom.  Yet, when they light up on their balcony, they risk bothering other people who want to enjoy their own balconies without being exposed to second-hand smoke.  This problem becomes even worse in the case of pipe or cigar smokers.

Carnival at one time had a smoke-free ship, the Paradise.  I’ve heard conflicting reports about its demise.  Some say that the ship was very profitable and sailed full just about every week.  Others say the ship reverted back to normal smoking policies after it kept losing money week after week in onboard revenue.  Supposedly the take from the bars and lounges, as well as the casino, was dismal.  Supposedly non-smokers simply don’t drink and gamble as much as smokers do.  Other people, however, claimed that the only reason Carnival removed the Paradise’s smoke-free designation was because the second Carnival ship that was doing regular Caribbean sailings was relocated elsewhere.  Since the Paradise was to be the only Carnival ship left in the Caribbean, the cruise line executives felt that they would lose too many of those Caribbean passengers to other cruise lines if they kept the Paradise sailing as a smoke-free ship.

Of course, the days of the smoke-free Carnival Paradise were pretty long ago.  So, what about today?  Do you think a totally smoke-free ship could be profitable?  Or how about this one — would you actually be willing to pay more for your cruise if you could sail on a totally smoke-free ship?  Some of the cruise lines state that the simple reason they have refused to go entirely smoke-free is that the impact on onboard revenue would be too great on such a ship.  I actually had one hotel manager tell me that his predecessor had made the bar area smoke-free in a couple of the lounges, and when he took over and saw the major decline in drink sales in those bars, he immediately switched them back to smoking venues.  He claimed that it’s a simple fact in the industry that smokers tend to drink more.  So, it would seem, at least to me, that if a ship was going to go either smoke-free, or at least highly restricted, they would have to demand a higher price in order to compensate for lost revenues.  Would you be willing to forego cheaper cruises on other ships in order to sail a smoke-free one?

And, how about you smokers?  Would you stop sailing a cruise line if they greatly restricted the areas onboard where you could light up?  I heard via various message boards that Regent Seven Seas’ passengers were pretty hot when that luxury line eliminated smoking in the cabins and on balconies.   Would you sail, for example, the ships of Azamara, Disney or Oceania — some of the most restrictive lines in terms of smoking?

If your cruise line told you that you could no longer smoke in your cabin or on your balcony, would you cancel your bookings with them?  Or how about the casino or the bars?  Would you frequent those venues if you couldn’t smoke?

Let us know what you think about this highly “inflammatory” issue.

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Comment from linda
Time February 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

no I would not cruise on any ship that was non-smoking. les it isn’t god for my health, but beating your children or your wife isn’t either. and drinking so much you can’t stand up or driving drunk. my smoke did not contaminate the lake where I live. americans talk about smoke so much but they refuse to recycle,drink and drive. I am very conciderate when and where I smoke and I live with a non smoker who is rude to smokers sometimes even though he used to smoke himself. if you want to talk about polution look at our oceans compared to oceans that we sail on these ships to see. ours is very nasty.and smoking did not do that. just about everytown has trouble with their drinking water from polution and its not from cigarette smoke.

Comment from Bev
Time February 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm

My husband smokes and I do not. For that reason we booked a balcony cabin on our last cruise. Celebrity changed it’s policy and we found out when we boarded that he could no longer smoke in the cabin or balcony. Needless to say, he was not happy. If they go totally smoke free, we will travel on another line.

Comment from mark
Time February 18, 2009 at 7:30 am

I am a smoker, but one consideration the ships have had to take is fires. Too often passengers flip their butts over the side only to have them land on the deck below. I believe a major fire was caused by this a while back. Even years ago in the navy you were not allowed to smoke in your bunk (rack) do to the hazard of falling asleep with a lit cigarette . Today, this same philosophy is practiced by not allowing smoking in cabins. Smoking policy doesn’t always dictate smoking areas.

Comment from Mary
Time February 21, 2009 at 9:58 am

My husband and I booked a suite on HAL in March of 2008 for a transatlantic crossing. Upon entering the room there was the almost distinct awareness that someone was smoking in the room. After looking around we discovered smoke filtering through the door frame of a connecting suite next to us. The room steward brought in an air purifier and taped the door frame of the door tight. We had to leave the room while purifier was in operation as safety guidelines required. This occured almost every other day and we were out of the room 1-2 hours. Since this was a cruise of 21 days and many days at sea, this was quite an inconvenience..not to mention the souring of our potential cruises if we can not be assured of a smoke free room. NEVER book a room with a connecting door. Agents should mention this to non-smokers. Marriott can assign you to smoke free areas..why can’t the cruise lines?

Comment from CheriK
Time February 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Marriott used to be my favorite hotel chain, but when they went completely smoke-free, I went elsewhere. I spend 40-50 nights a year out of town on business, and that’s revenue Marriott just lost. Hopefully the cruiselines will learn from the failed smoke-free policies.

Comment from Jennifer
Time March 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

I am a non smoker but believe that both groups of people can get along. Hopefully all the cruise lines will fall in line with creating smoking/non-smoking sides of the ships and creating lounges of both varieties. I have seen both courteous smokers and non smokers. I believe that we can all work together to create a holiday environment that encourages relaxation and enjoyment. I stay away from smoking environments and hope that those smoking will do so in appropriate areas. Looking forward to my next cruise!

Comment from Lyle
Time November 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

I totally understand the concerns of non-smokers. BUT, there is one very improtant point that I believe they are overlooking and it’s going to bit them in the butt some day. That is that smoking is way more than a habit, it is a chemical addiction. An addiction that is harder to quit than even street drugs. Food and being obese is not even an addiction, it is a habit and life style that effects all of us in cost and many other ways. There are many other bad things that other people do that is just too long to list here. Just remember, ones you attack one group of people that you are not, it only sets up a history of how to attack you next. My cruise days are over with these new smoking policies. And yours would be too, if they said you could not eat at the time you normaly eat.
Your day is coming soon.

Comment from Susan
Time January 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I have amoke induced asthma and have been very hesitant to travel on any cruise line because of this medical condition. Even in our RV, we have had to leave campgrounds because of campfires. Good thing I like my smokefree home.

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